Go to the Ant, You Lazybones

July 3, 2008

Shreyas just called me to ask why there isn’t a roleplaying game for Onmyoji-style stories, because he occasionally does random things like that.

It reminded me of this thing that my brother did at Baptist Youth Camp, our heretical summer camp for gay-loving southern Baptists. His group was given Proverbs 6:6 and asked to make a skit to use in our daily worship service. The only problem was that Proverbs 6:6 is (in the translation they used), “Go to the ant, you lazybones; heed his ways and be wise.” Leigh, of course, chose to play the Great and All-Knowing Ant, a kind of guru-take on the Wizard of Oz, seated on a pile of chairs or maybe the shoulders of youth leaders. I just remember him being high up in the air. And the other character in the skit came to seek his advice.

The point of this is that there’s a niche for a game in which one player plays the sage and the other players play people coming to seek help, just like the role of the spiritualist in Onmyoji or Merlin in The Sword in the Stone or even Achilles after he’s retired from fighting at Troy and the Greeks start losing. The point would be that only the sage knows how to do whatever needs to be done, but they can’t actually accomplish it themselves without the assistance of the people coming to seek them out. That could be a very cool dynamic for a game, I suspect, as long as the sage had a very clear non-GM role.

One Response to “Go to the Ant, You Lazybones”

  1. Guy Shalev Says:

    Heh, many people use this against systems where you have all powerful NPCs.

    The difference, being that this is the concept of the game, is subtle. Sure, the players should not complain, since they know in advance this is how it’ll go, but still, I think it’s not what most people would want in their game, aside from the one playing the problem-solver.

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